Encouraging residents to take social ownership of an online community network through PAD: Participation, Animation, Design

Employment Australia

Theories of networked individualism and urban alienation have challenged the continued purpose and relevance of conventional communities in urban neighbourhood. However, the majority of urban residents surveyed in this research still believe that there are people living in their immediate neighbourhood who may share their interests or who are at least compatible at the personality level, but they do not know them. Web-based community networking systems have the potential to facilitate intra-neighbourhood interaction and support community building efforts. Community networking studies have shown that technical connectivity alone does not ensure community, and that new and weak communities do not benefit from community networking systems as much as existing and strong communities do. This paper builds on these findings to discuss a methodology combining principles of Participation, Animation and Design (PAD). It is currently being employed and tested in a case study of three urban apartment complexes. PAD builds on intrinsic motivation in residents to find out about and meet one another in a private and inobtrusive way. It encourages residents to take social ownership of the community building process and the community network. PAD recognises the network qualities in the communicative ecologies of urban residents and supplements collectivistic approaches towards community building with interactive and personalised peer-to-peer social networking strategies.

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